Enjoy a mini stay-cation and an experience you’re unlikely to forget!
Quality time with your significant other can be hard to come by in today’s fast-paced lifestyle. This rings especially true in Japan, where often families coexist in one- or two-room dwellings. What’s the answer? Love hotels. This is a godsend to those wanting a few hours of time away without breaking the bank. Let me tell you how.
What is a love hotel?
It’s simply a place to rent a room hourly or for a set time. In Okinawa, there are roughly 120 of them, so they are quite popular. They range from 500 yen an hour for a really basic room to 8,000 yen for a few hours in an upscale one.
How do they work?
In general, you park either in an enclosed parking lot and enter the hotel, or in a single garage, and enter the room without passing through reception. Smaller hotels use the garage system, great for privacy and anonymity (two things Japanese people crave in this type of establishment). Larger hotels use private lots (usually because they’re multi-story), and have more room choices. Generally, the reception desk is unmanned, but staff can be called. A kiosk with screen will show pictures of rooms that are lit if available. Clicking an image shows details and prices, and once you select a room, some kiosks print tickets. Note the room number and floor, and off you go. Rooms are unlocked automatically; there are no keys. Leave your shoes in the small entrance of the room (this also has a machine to pay after your stay, with yen or credit card). In the smaller, garage-style hotels, simply park, use the button on the wall to close the garage door (sometimes they’re automatic), and wait for the room door to be unlocked. There’s a phone on the wall to call for assistance, but prices are displayed on posters. Again, remove shoes at the door before you enter. In these, there will be another door at the opposite end of the room with a small hatch to pay at the end of your stay. My advice is to always have yen, and if you aren’t fluent in Japanese, to possibly bring a dictionary, or expect to muddle through with staff, as many aren’t well-versed in English.
What can I expect?
Facilities vary, but most have a big bed, seating area with TV, bathroom, as well as hygiene products, bathrobes, pay-per-view shows (mostly adult), prophylactics, and what we will politely call “marital aids.” Those are in a little cabinet, locked, that you feed yen to open, like a vending machine. Rooms are clean, quiet and private, and most have shutters or heavy drapes over windows. Some even have themed rooms, so you can indulge your imagination! There aren’t many rules, but you are expected to behave in such a manner so as not to disturb other guests.
Where can I find one?
All over! But for the most part, your best bet if you are looking for a cheap night and lots of choice, is route 22 through Awase. This road is known as Love Hotel Alley, and at night is a sea of neon. Once you’ve been to one, you start noticing them all over the place. They are quite distinct!
I think these are a truly wonderful idea, they give people whose time and privacy is at a minimum the chance to unwind and enjoy quality time, far removed from daily life. Make date night an adventure!
By Louse Dupuy